I’m the head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto as well as a practicing dentist. My career as a university professor has been devoted to dental research, specializing in tooth development and, more recently, dental/bone fluorosis, which is the systemic poisoning caused by fluorides.
For many years, I was a vocal supporter of water fluoridation. That was before I had reason to carefully examine other published studies. What I learned, after thoroughly researching the fluoride-toxicology literature, which, like so many other proponents of fluoridation, I had previously ignored, horrified me. After much soul-searching, I publicly apologized for having misled so many for so long. So now, it is my carefully considered opinion that water fluoridation should be banned.
Here are my reasons:
Fluoride is not essential for normal tooth development. Dental decay is not a disease caused by a lack of fluoride. It is caused by poor oral hygiene and frequent exposure to dietary sugars and starch. It is now recognized that swallowing fluoride does little to prevent dental decay.
It does not make your teeth “stronger” or more resistant to decay by incorporation into the tooth structure during development. However, if you swallow fluoride, it increases the risk of childhood dental fluorosis, especially when tap water is used to make infant formula.
Dental fluorosis not only manifests in mottling of the teeth but it also makes teeth more brittle. How much does it cost to treat dental fluorosis that develops in all children with growing teeth exposed to too much fluoride?
The treatment of dental fluorosis ranges from polishing, to full porcelain veneers, which are very expensive. The repair of dental fluorosis defects is considered “cosmetic” dentistry and it is elective. Few, if any, dental insurance companies will cover the cost. On a dental cost-benefit basis alone, water fluoridation is too expensive.
As if that isn’t bad enough, dental fluorosis is a bio-indicator of the general integrity of the bones. Some studies indicate that there is an increased risk of bone fractures in both children and adults where there is increased dental fluorosis. Fluoride accumulates in the skeleton — the longer the exposure, the more brittle your teeth and bones. What about the people who retain too much fluoride (e.g., diabetes, renal failure) or the people who exhibit allergic reactions to the fluoridation chemicals?
Fluoridation of all the water in Davis County will cost a minimum of a $1 million per year for the next seven years. Over 20 years it will cost about $16 million. Only 1 percent of the water is used for human consumption.
Ninety-nine percent of the fluoridation investment goes, quite literally, down the drain and pollutes the environment. After 20 years, all you can really expect to save from dental decay is about 0.3 tooth surfaces out of 128 tooth surfaces per person. About 80 percent of this decay is in the target population of disadvantaged children in Davis County numbering approximately 3,742 under 12 years of age living at the poverty level. Let’s see, that’s $4,275 for each disadvantaged child. Wow.
Don’t forget the hidden costs of fluoridation. What will it cost to clean up fluoride spills or treat water workers exposed to toxic fluorides? What will it cost to continually replace pumps, equipment and pipes eroded by fluoride chemicals? And how about all the costs associated with the promotion of fluoridation through state-sponsored ad campaigns?
Utah received an F grade in the 2003 Oral Health America for having less than 50 percent of the population on fluoridated water. Is this why there is a push fluoridate more of Utah’s precious water?
Ironically, in the same report, the oral health of the adults statewide is actually better than the national average.
Furthermore, the 2000 Utah Oral Health Survey reported nearly half the children in Utah had no dental decay experience. This is due, in part, to the effective public health dental-sealant program that has, so far, only managed to reach half the children.
Why not spend all this fluoridation money on funding Children’s Health Insurance Program, putting more money into the dental sealant program or simply providing free dental service for people on Medicaid?
Finally, medical and dental professionals as well as numerous reputable organizations question the ethics of fluoridation. Fluoridation violates the individual’s right to informed consent to medication. The dose cannot be controlled or even tracked.
Total fluoride consumption is not calculated. People vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic effects are harmed while not being advised of the risk.
Utah’s water supply is very precious and limited. Don’t spoil it by adding more crude chemicals to it.
Do the benefits outweigh the risks? After everything I have read, no.
The risks are substantial.
Is it worth the money? Obviously not. Besides, what’s your freedom to choose worth? If you continue to fluoridate your water supplies, you’ve given away yours and your neighbor’s freedom to drink un-medicated water and it’s even going to cost you an extra $5 annually per person. I understand that’s already up from the original cost of $1.38 that they promised.
Dr. Hardy Limeback, BSc, Ph.D., DDS, is head of preventive dentistry at the University of Toronto, Canada.